Interview with Filmmaker Kody Zimmerman (LOCK)

LOCK, 3min., Canada,
Directed by Kody Zimmermann
For some kids, the garage is an oasis away from parents, homework, and chores. But sometimes, there may be something hidden amongst the junk and clutter. Something that makes ‘alone time’ not what it seems.

Get to know the filmmaker:

1. What motivated you to make this film?
First of all, I felt I needed to feed my filmmaking addiction again, to be behind the camera again. It had been a while since I did a short, as I committed the last couple of years to developing feature films. And every aspect of making a short film is a taxing endeavour. It taxes your finances, your scheduling, your relationships, your commitments. Anyone who does these often enough knows there are only so many times you can go back to the well to ask for donated gear, volunteer cast and crew.

So the second part of my motivation came from a very simple question: How much of this can I do on my own? On the quest to answer that question, I became a huge, huge fan of filmmaker David F. Sandberg (LIGHTS OUT, SHAZAM) and his Youtube channel devoted specifically to do-it-yourself filmmaking.

It rewired my way of thinking. My short film THE FAMILIAR was run like a well-oiled feature film with dozens of crew members, multiple locations, multiple actors, and top-of-the-tier gear. For something as bare-bones as LOCK, I allowed myself to let go of that mindset. It was liberating. But it did mean brushing up on skills I hadn’t exercised in years and learning new ones I had never touched on before.

2. From the idea to the finished product, how long did it take for you to make this film?

Regarding the concept and the script, it took a couple of hours. Everything else took time. A lot of time.

LOCK was supposed to be filmed a few years ago, along with two other micro-shorts to make up a “Trilogy of Terror”. We had an enormous amount of people and gear involved for a one-day shoot. It was only when we were knee-deep into shooting the second story, that we realized that we bit off more than we could chew. We decided to leave LOCK for another day.

When I decided to tackle it again, I realized that doing everything with my family in our home had an enormous advantage: I wasn’t rushed. I didn’t have to worry about returning the gear to a rental house. I didn’t have to worry about the cast and crew’s schedules. I wasn’t getting kicked out of a borrowed location. So I took advantage of it – extreme advantage.

My family and I took care, making sure the set and lighting were just right. My son Jason, the lead actor, doesn’t come from an acting background, so we took time for each shot to discuss thoroughly each moment of his character. We’d shoot one shot a day, then I’d walk three steps from the garage to my office and download it into Resolve to see if it fit exactly how I wanted.

This went on for maybe a month, a month and a half. No pressures, no financial stress. Only the pure joy of focusing on the craft and getting the tone, design and feel just right.

3. How would you describe your film in two words!?

Building dread.

4. What was the biggest obstacle you faced in completing this film?

Music. I do not come from a musical background, so that was the only real curveball to LOCK’s production.

The first headache was in what my son was playing his bass guitar. I foolishly told him to jam on the guitar while filming, so he started intuitively plucking the strings instead of playing a rote pattern. I realized too late in editing that it would be impossible for him to recreate a clean track. So we sat together for a few hours, recording individual guitar plucks based on what he observed with each playback frame. Gruelling stuff, but worth it.

The next musical problem was the score. No one in our family — not me, my wife, my son or my daughter — knew enough about music composition even to attempt to score the picture. After a couple of months of trying to find the right fit, we were rescued by my pal Marc Roussel. He put us in touch with the extremely talented composer Christopher Guglick. Chris knew exactly what the picture needed, and we couldn’t have been happier with his final product.

5. What were your initial reactions when watching the audience talking about your film in the feedback video?

Relief! If you’re serious about your craft, you get lost in the hours you pour into it. After that, it’s a roll of the dice on whether people will take to it or not — whether they will respond (hopefully positively!) to the idea you came up with and if you executed it with any amount of entertainment value. Hearing others react so well supplies that addictive chemical to get the next project going.

Proud. We loved hearing the audience give positive feedback for my son’s performance. As I mentioned, he has no acting experience, so he dove in, trusting me that he could do it. I’m so glad others recognized what he brought to the table.

Intrigue. I was extremely interested in how each viewer analyzed the thematic core of the picture. I found it amazing that one of the viewers received it on a purely metaphorical level — it reminded me of how Steven Pressfield describes Resistance in his book The War of Art. In a wider context, this is one of the reasons why I believe Horror is so popular and enduring. No other genre allows the viewer to engage with the on-screen symbols on such a personal level.

6. When did you realize that you wanted to make films?

I’m not so sure it was a moment when I wanted to make films as much as it was a moment when I realized I could make films. When you’re a kid, Filmmaking is synonymous with Hollywood, and Hollywood is a billion miles away — especially when you live in a small town in northern Canada. Sure, you can idolize guys like George Lucas and Steven Spielberg, but these are the gods of Olympus, and Olympus had always felt untouchable.

But then, in high school, I remember reading a Fangoria article about Sam Raimi. There was a picture of him working on EVIL DEAD. The shooting conditions looked rough, primitive, and bone-breaking. But he looked as happy as a cat surrounded by catnip. I remember thinking this had to be the best job in the world. If someone from the middle of Michigan could get a low-budget horror film made, then maybe someone from northern British Columbia might too.

7. What film have you seen the most in your life?

I don’t know… I’m a repeat viewer of films I like and have many films on rotation.

I watch THE GODFATHER and GODFATHER II every Christmas. Sometimes when I’m writing, I alternate between two cult classics playing in the background (THE CAR and NIGHTMARES — if you’ve never heard of them, it’s understandable). When insomnia hits me, I usually put on GOODFELLAS or BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA. I know their pacing so well, they act as a calming agent and allow me to drift off to sleep.

But if I had to decide, I’d say I’ve seen JAWS or RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK the most.

8. What other elements of the festival experience can we and other festivals implement to satisfy you and help you further your filmmaking career?

Whatever can be done to help bridge the gap between other film professionals and us to get the next project rolling. A writer/director comes to any project with their perspective, style, and voice. Hopefully, LOCK will show any producer or production company what I would bring to a project in development.

9. You submitted to the festival via FilmFreeway. How has your experience been working on the festival platform site?

Great! FilmFreeway has helped keep everything organized and ready for us to get the short out to various film festivals.

10. What is your favorite meal?

You can’t go wrong with lasagna… especially when there’s garlic bread involved.

11. What is next for you? A new film?

I’m developing a haunted house film called THE HOLLOW SEASON. I have been fortunate enough to attach Executive Producer Rob Cowan, who has produced THE CONJURING, AQUAMAN, and THE CRAZIES remake, to name a few. One of my other producing partners is gathering all the puzzle pieces together so we can finally go into production with the feature.

Meanwhile, I’m busy working on three scripts. Almost done is the second draft of my wife’s favourite, KING OF THE CASTLE, which in elevator-pitch terms, is “MR.MOM meets EVIL DEAD by way of LABYRINTH.”


By matthewtoffolo

Filmmaker and sports fan. CEO of the WILDsound Film and Writing Festival

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